Singapore—In his recent interview with the BBC’s Talking Business Asia, aired over the weekend, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed the hope that the country’s doors will start to open to travellers once more by the end of this year.
While the BBC’s Ms Karishma Vaswani spoke to PM Lee about a wide range of topics including tensions between the United States and China and the Government’s “mistake” in not having been upfront about data from TraceTogether, many of the topics discussed revolved around the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Ms Vaswani asked the Prime Minister when he thought life would return to “normal,” specifically with regard to travel, he mentioned that many countries had started mass vaccinations, which means that travel could resume.
“I hope if that many countries can have substantial proportions of their populations vaccinated by later this year, we will be able to have the confidence and to have developed the systems to open up our international borders to travel safely again,” said PM Lee.
“It would not be like before where you can just buy a ticket, hop onto the plane and go off to Hong Kong, Bangkok or Bali for a weekend and a casual holiday.
You have to plan for it, you must have some documentation, you need some way to prove that you have been properly vaccinated and maybe be tested to prove that you have the antibodies in you when you fly.”
He sounded optimistic that this could happen by the end of the year, or perhaps next year.
“But hopefully, by the end of this year or next year, the doors can start to open, if not earlier.”
Ms Vaswani had brought up the subject of vaccines, asking the Prime Minister how much of a “game changer” it is for Singapore.
He concurred saying that it is the “only way” for the country “to stop being vulnerable and to open up to the world again.”
Singapore will be able to accomplish its vaccination plan “very comprehensively…within this year.”
However, the Prime Minister admitted that this round of vaccinations alone is “not absolutely foolproof,” given the Covid-19 virus mutations.
Further rounds of vaccinations are likely to be needed, he added.
Additionally, given the trade-reliant nature of Singapore’s economy, he added that “other countries are not all ready to come out from lockdown yet.
So even if we are ready to do business, you need partners.”
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